Grace has got a mole on her left jaw
where the finger presses
where the swelling reddens
where the anger hides.
Her eyes flare
with faded wrinkles
Tan skin reddens
around the strip
of pale skin
where her sunglasses
She's had no rest for twenty years.
Not since he put his soft hands
between her legs
and listened to the choppers
hum and wail, scream and whirr.
No medvac for this memory.
She's got a short scar on her right temple
where the coat hanger dug
and dropped from his hand.
It's a thin line,
just below the freckled cheekbone,
just wider than her smile
when she imagines him writhe.
His image withers in her thick hair.
He can't fly out of that thick brown thatch,
the underfoliage of her dreams.
Her ears have no holes,
and neither does her forgiveness.
She draws a map
to find her friends.
She'd stayed so quiet
about what he did to her for so long
that she's forgotten that her fear isn't her fault.
Needles. The desert border town.
Time crawls here.
The army may travel on it's stomach,
but the Air Force turned this pilot
into a navigator for targets.
Orangepeels rotted in the sun.
She lives under a canopy of the map
that she drew to her door. She opens it to tell him 'no. go away.'
He doesn't move when she yells.
"Fuck it," he says, "I don't need her.
His walkie-talkie cackles.
When she opens the door again,
four friends enter with their scars.
She draws a map to her pleasure:
"Exorcise, my seething people."
Her neck is burnt
and folds on her voice.
Vocal cords shudder,
"Stop the empty-eyed marauder
in his pinstriped suits
and briefcase delirium."
Pale wrinkles line her throat.
Her fingers tightly curl
around what stays hers:
knobs and corners,
table edges and lamp shades.
Sidewalk curbs and parking meters
belong below her fists. So does his face.
Her hands are wide and round,
the thickness of a muffled slap.
She gave sharp jabs to eye sockets.
She draws a map
to her works.
Knuckles knob under dishwater hours.
She takes double shifts for dinner tips
and, after, lathers in the back room.
She lays against the bathroom wall
and holds her wrist,
busy in her rest,
against her thin waist.
Her hunger doesn't abate at their search.
Her needs swivel constantly.
Her neck rotates
from side to signal denial.
She won't let anyone touch her
against her word.
She holds a solid tongue.
She tilts her head against all glances.
Orbital angles create seasons.
She won't let him leave her vision.
He can't escape.
She draws a map
to her vengeance.
Her back holds wide stories.
Packed for cross-country travels,
this veteran of childhood sexual abuse
searches for the gunship pilot
that held her in the closet corner
and wouldn't call it rape.
Her shoulders narrow down to thick hips
swollen with enraged dances.
A hitch step juts her right arm
when she lifts her hand to her face.
Her mouth accepts what she gives herself.
When she bites her lip,
the skin fades,
She shies from diners,
the lunchtables and brunch counters
whose money brings her home
through bus shelter rain
and passing glances.
Her teeth are cracked, crooked, yellow.
Her nose is curved, broken
(at least once she said no)
her nostrils bulge and flare
(she ran for years)
the tip points
(she could point him out in the street).
Her walk is two fold,
one step for where she's going,
and one step for where she's been.
A hitch in the left foot swings the right leg
across Greyhound deserts and Amtrak mountains
without hardly a bend in the knee.
She doesn't curve
until the rains come
and waters carve her
into acceptance of their direction.
She draws a map
to find him.
Today's plyboard was yesterday's attack
and tonight thrills where she'd caught him.
The people she loves raced for the ratcheted hangar.
They threaded his helicopters over jungles,
softened her grainy words against clay cases of spoken ammo.
They flew him to the Colorado River,
hovered above the brook
They showed him how far down he'll have to go.
He held onto the open door with one finger.
and screamed all the way down.
Later, they fixed her dinner.
She rested, well fed.
She drew a map
to find her self.
She smells like ginger,
the aromatic root
that grows best in the shade.
She tastes like paprika,
the spice that falls from laden branches in heavy winds.
Her eyes are as sharp as garlic,
the bulbous layers that transplant well.
She treasures you like cinnamon.
She's got a jaw
as sharp as her demands
for justice and deliverance,
music and food.
Bass guitar and drum kits
jut and curve around the clef
to the left of her chin. Her
freckles fade into liver spots
on hands and feet.
Her elbows are scarred,
but not from his touch.
She's fought enough guard-dogs
and drunk customers to mark stadiums
of football fans with torrid red flesh.
Her forearms are lightly matted
with dusty blonde hair. Her need
is blunt and brutal, a wheat-field
in winter, a bundle of hay chaff,
a roll of barbed wire
and a canvass on fire.
She's traced this map.
She takes it with her
wherever she goes.
Before she returned to school in San Francisco, Judith Jordan washed dishes, danced in a strip club, and worked in a carnival. She parked cars in Portland, cut hoagies in Philadelphia, and took tickets at the Houston Rodeo, all in a different uniform. She's lived in mobile homes, tractor trailers, attics, garages, hostels, hotels, a train station, a walk-in closet, and a men's shelter. She sings to learn how to talk and dances to learn how to walk. firstname.lastname@example.org is a transfemme sub who was once arrested for refusing to identify herself.
Issue 13 or Lodestar Quarterly home page